Discount store love and giveaway!


4/4/12: Congratulations to my winner, JENNIFER! I will be in touch about your prize!

If you've been around WINOW for very long, you know that much as I love thrift stores, they have a close second place in my heart in the form of discount stores. I've waxed poetic about TJ Maxx and Marshall's (more than once) and showed you my Big Lots bounty (again, more than once...). Though I may not have mentioned them often here, I'm also a big fan of Ross, Burlington Coat Factory, Tuesday Morning, and, when I can find one, Gabriel Brothers.

And so it was that I found myself, given a rare day with nothing on the agenda and no pressing thrift shopping to take care of, browsing a variety of these stores. I wasn't completely without aim--I was, as I always seem to be these days, shopping for bras--but I didn't let that mundane task stop me from looking around. And I have to tell you, the discount stores in my neck of the woods are looking good.

TJ Maxx/Marshall's

Apparently, TJ Maxx is intended to be the slightly more upscale of these two stores, but I can't tell the local outposts apart. They seem to have more or less the same items at more or less the same prices. A few things that caught my eye at one or both of these stores were:

the balm set.jpg
theBalm "Hey Mama" Set

See that set above, of three full-sized products from theBalm (bronzer, blush, and translucent powder)? It's $49.99 on Amazon. It was $9.99 at TJ Maxx or Marshall's this weekend. I think maybe it's being discontinued, as I can't find it many places online, but the individual products are still for sale on theBalm's website. Same with the individual products in the other sets I saw at my stores, including color-specific eye kits for $9.99 ($35.95 on Amazon) and the Timebalm Skincare Age Fighting Heroes kits for $12.99 ($57.99 on Amazon).

Le Creuset
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Le Creuset Stoneware Oval Dish

The 3 3/4 quart oval stoneware baking dish from Le Creuset shown above originally retailed at $70. Amazon has it right now for $35.95. I picked one just like it up off the clearance rack at TJ Maxx for Mark this weekend, for $13. A while back, after realizing that none of our rubber spatulas were in anything approaching decent shape, I spotted a whole passel of these Le Creuset versions at Marshall's. Amazon has them for $9 each--I believe I paid $2.99.

caldrea sink set.jpg
Caldrea Cloverleaf Sink Set

My Marshall's and TJ Maxx almost always have Caldrea products, which I think is awesome, because I love their hand soap. One new product I noticed this weekend was these hand sink sets--a little stainless steel organizer equipped with dish soap, hand soap, and countertop cleanser. I believe they were $12.99 at my stores. At Balducci's, they're $46. There were a variety of other products available as well, including smaller sized lotions and hand soaps for $2.99 each, and sink side hand soap and lotion sets in a similar stainless steel holder for $9.99.

Calvin Klein
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Calvin Klein Women's Seductive Comfort Customized Lift Lave Bra

You had to know I was going to come back to bras, right? My favorite bras are Calvin Klein--they've just always fit me really well and been very comfortable. They're also often available at Marshall's and TJ Maxx. This one was, I believe, $14.99. It's $46 to get it in my size on Amazon.

Big Lots

For a while, I was kinda off Big Lots. They built a new store close to my house and it seemed like I never found anything there. I kept trying, though, and this weekend's trips were fruitful--I saw all sorts of cool stuff, and found a number of things that made their way home with me. Some of the highlights were:

Crocs Classic

I really don't get Crocs, though if my feet swell much more I may have to reconsider...I know, however, that lots of folks are crazy for them. These classic variety ones retail for $34.99 on the Crocs site, and I don't see them in adult sizes for less than around $25 anywhere. Big Lots had a bin of them for $15 each. They even had some in my size, but so far I have resisted.

Tom's of Maine
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Tom's of Maine Soothing Mint Maximum Strength Sensitive Fluoride Toothpaste

I am a dedicated Tom's of Maine toothpaste girl, and I nearly always buy it at Big Lots (typically 4-6 tubes at a time). This visit, I was stoked to see the store carrying the sensitive teeth variety, which I could use right now, as pregnancy has made my whole mouth sensitive. On Tom's of Maine's website, this toothpaste is $5.99/tube. The lowest I see it for elsewhere is $4.99. At Big Lots, it was $2.50.

Anchor Hocking
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Anchor Hocking Round Glass 6 Piece Storage Container Set

I have kind of a thing about glass storage containers, and Anchor Hocking is my favorite brand (they're still made in the USA!). This six-piece storage set, featuring lidded containers in 4-cup, 2-cup, and 1-cup sizes, retails for $14.99 on Amazon. At Big Lots, it's $6. I actually have a whole cupboard full of this set and similar ones, all from Big Lots.

Tuesday Morning

Wacoal Luxe Extra Touches Push Up Underwire Bra

I know, back to bras! I have to tell you about this one because it excited me so much, though. Before my boobs decided to get huge, I wore a lot of Wacoal bras--always purchased at Nordstrom Rack for less than $30 each. The other day, I saw that they had a small selection of them at Tuesday Morning as well! This particular variety, which sells for $46-$70 depending on color on Wacoal's site, was, I believe, $26.

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ASSETSĀ® Marvelous Mama Modern Fishnet Tights

I tend to be of the opinion that the last thing my pregnant butt needs is shaping garments. Or fishnets. But if I felt differently, these Assets tights would be really cute. They're a nice moderate fishnet, come in bigger sizes, and are, of course, intended for the pregnant crowd. They're $20 on the Spanx website and I believe they were $12.99 at Tuesday Morning.

Burlington Coat Factory

Burlington Coat Factory is the newest addition to my discount stores list. I've found them to be a great source of bras and, oddly specifically, Calvin Klein dresses (usually around $10 for the former and $40 for the latter). Recently, though, I took a look around to see what else they had to offer, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Amy Butler
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Amy Butler Dancing Garden Comforter and Sham Set

How perfect are Amy Butler fabrics for bedding?? I didn't even know Amy Butler bedding existed until I saw the Dancing Garden set, pictured above, at Burlington Coat Factory. The organic set was originally priced at $130, and Amazon has it for $68.88, but at Burlington it was on clearance for $39.99.

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Built Market Tote

Though I've never used one, I've always liked the look of the neoprene totes and carriers made by Built. They seem like they'd work really well for farmer's market shopping or carrying food to work. This variety, the large market tote, retails for $39.99 at Amazon and Zappos. The ones I saw at Burlington were $14.99.


Around here, Ross is the bottom of the discount store pyramid. The stores are often understaffed and very disorganized. Still, if you have the time and patience to sift, gems can be found. The ones I noticed recently were:

Core Bamboo
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Core Bamboo Dishwasher Safe Bamboo Cutting Board

I like bamboo cutting boards--they look nice and they clean up easy, and bamboo is a great sustainable material. This small, 10.5x7 inch version, $14.27 at Amazon, is $4.99 at Ross.

Vista Alegre
I can't find a picture of it anywhere online, so I suspect the casual white porcelain Cook & Serve line by Portuguese company Vista Alegre has been discontinued. However, they still have quite a bit of it at my Ross store, and we've purchased a number of things ourselves, including a large platter (think Thanksgiving turkey size) and several sizes of baking dishes. The dishes are no-nonsense, heavy white porcelain, made in Portugal, and both look and hold up great. Prices vary, but some are as low as $4.99 for a smallish baking dish.

Michael Kors
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Michael Kors Mens Long Sleeve Dress Shirt

There are few articles of clothing I care about less than men's button down shirts, but I still took a look at the selection at Ross recently and was surprised to find a passel of Michael Kors shirts, like the one above, for $17.99. The pattern seemed to be the same was what you'd find at Macy's or similar, where the shirts retail for $59.99.

Good stuff, right?

Much like thrift stores, I think discount stores can be overwhelming for people who aren't used to them. It's true that a lot of what you might find in a given store is crap, and things don't work quite the same way as they do in regular department stores. On the assumption that at least a few WINOW readers are skeptical of these bargain warehouses, I thought I'd provide a few tips for newbie discount store shoppers:

1. Keep an open mind (and open eyes).

Just like you would in a thrift store, you have to approach a discount store with both an open mind and a sharp eye. You may find things you'd never considered, or even heard of, before. Things are quite often going to be in sections that make no sense. Shop with an awareness to what is around you, and with the mindset that you're looking for buried treasure.

2. If you like it, buy it. Don't hesitate.

Unlike department stores, discount stores usually have a very limited number of any given item, and when they're gone, they're gone. These stores are not the place to exercise "if I still want it next week, I'll come back for it" restraint. However, the majority of them DO have decent return policies (be sure to check your particular store), so if you buy something and change your mind about it, you can bring it back. That's much better than not buying it, coming back for it later, and finding it gone.

3. If you try it and you REALLY like it, buy multiples.

Much of the merchandise you find in discount stores is discontinued, so if you buy something and absolutely love it, you may want to scurry back while whatever it is is still available and buy as many more as you can get your hands on. It is quite possible you won't have the chance again, at any price. Once upon a time, I didn't do this, with a particular variety of EO room spray. They don't make it anymore, and I have been hoarding the last quarter of the bottle I have for years. Another time, I found these great Giovanni Hand Wipes for something like $4.99/bag at Marshall's. After I took one bag home and discovered that they are the perfect wipes to keep in my car for post-thrifting clean-up, I went back and bought about a dozen more. I still have a couple of bags left, which is good, because they're hard to find other places, and when I do see them, they're at least twice and often three times as expensive.

4. Stay critical.

As much as you can find hidden treasure in discount stores, things are there, rather than at department stores, for a reason. When you're considering buying something, especially something big, try to figure out what that reason is, and if it matters to you. For example, I could care less if most things are "last year's model," but I don't want to buy anything that is or is about to be expired. You also need to keep an eye out for damage--things that are in discount stores are often "second quality," and though a lot of the time the defect that keeps an item from being sold at full price doesn't matter in the least to you, sometimes it does. Be sure to look items over carefully and check tags for clues.

5. Be aware of the non-discount price.

Not everything in a discount store is actually discounted. For example, I was recently excited to see Bob's Red Mill products at my local Big Lots, but when I compared the prices on them to the ones elsewhere, I found that they weren't significantly discounted--and some of them were actually marked with higher prices at Big Lots than they are at regular supermarkets. Stores with tags that claim an "original price" or "compare at" price are not immune from this phenomenon--sometimes the comparison prices they list are just wrong--so you have to be aware of what a given item goes for elsewhere and not assume that it's going to be cheaper just because most things in a discount store are.

6. Shop often.

Another way discount stores are like thrift stores is that their merchandise turns over fairly quickly, so the same store could have a mostly-different inventory from one month to the next. Because of this, and because of the small number of highly discounted items they sometimes get in stock, you have to hit your local discount stores fairly regularly in order to get the best deals.

7. Don't buy things you have no use for.

This is definitely do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do advice, as I have a hard, hard time with this one. But just because something is a cool/high quality/beautiful/whatever product, and is available at a highly discounted price, doesn't make that item something you actually need, or even want. Don't buy things you don't need or want. It's a financial drain, it creates a boatload of clutter, and it makes no sense. Really. I promise. I know.

8. Remain aware of the strengths and weaknesses of a given store.

All discount stores are not created equal, and there are certain items for which only a specific store will work. I rarely buy food items at any discount store besides Big Lots. Cosmetics and bath and beauty stuff is almost always best at Marshall's or TJ Maxx. For higher-end bedding, towels, and other similar housewares, Tuesday Morning is usually the best spot, and they also have fantastic plant pots. Burlington Coat Factory has the biggest selection of baby items. I don't know that these strengths are necessarily universal, however, as when we lived in Austin, Ross was wonderful for clothes and Tuesday Morning had a great stationary section and really good pet supplies, neither of which is the case here. So, it pays to be familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of your specific local stores, so that if you are looking for a specific item, you know where to go.

9. Remain aware of seasonality.

Discount stores have different stock at different times of the year, and some of the things they focus on might appeal to you more than others. For example, I love going to Marshall's and TJ Maxx in the month or two before Christmas, because they carry a ton of bath and body type stuff suitable for gift giving, and I eat that stuff up. I like Tuesday Morning and Big Lots more in the spring, when they carry plant pots and gardening supplies that make good gifts for Mark or that we may need around the house. Clothes, obviously, are seasonal at all of the stores, and they tend to have the best selections in the late summer (school shopping time).

10. Only do it if you enjoy it.

Again like thrift shopping, I think discount store shopping is really only worth it for those of us for whom shopping is fun. If there is no thrill of the treasure hunt for you, then whatever cost savings you achieve may well be overshadowed by the hassle of having to make lots of stops, sift through lots of crap, and deal with stores that may be dirty and are almost certainly disorganized. I get such a kick out of it, I wish I could do it for everybody--it would save me a lot of cash and those who don't enjoy shopping a lot of headaches--but until we figure out how to make that happen, those who really hate shopping are probably better off buying fewer things and paying more for the convenience of ordering them from Amazon.

And, finally, the giveaway!

In the spirit of celebrating discounts stores, I thought it would be fun to do a discount store themed contest. And, since I've been so into curated boxes lately, I thought it would be fun to curate my own. So, this giveaway is for a special, one-of-a-kind, Grace-curated discount store box! The box may contain any type of item, the only caveats being that it was something I thought was cool enough to buy, and that it was purchased from one of the discount stores listed above. The original retail value of this box is over $200 (but don't worry, I didn't pay anywhere near that for it)! Since I didn't give you any idea what was in the boxes the last time I did a giveaway, I decided it was only fair to give a clue this time. So here's a picture of what you could win:


Here's how to enter:
1. Leave a comment on this post telling me which, if any, discount stores you frequent and what you tend to buy there.
2. Share this post with your friends on Facebook or Twitter and leave me a comment telling me you did.
3. Go and read another post on this blog--any post you fancy--and leave me a comment there. It has to be relevant to that post, it can't just be "hi" or "this is for a contest entry!" Then come back and leave a comment on this post telling me you did it.

So, that's THREE ways to enter. Go do it! This contest is open to international entries, so long as you're willing to wait for your prize to arrive via whatever the most economical shipping option is.

I will close the contest in one week, next Wednesday, April 4, at 9:00 AM EST.

Good luck!

I am in no way affiliated with any of the stores or products mentioned in this post, and this review is not compensated in any way.


I really love my local TJ Maxx. It's usually very organized, and I've found great handbags (I'm carrying a silver-grey Kenneth Cole Reaction crossbody bag at the moment - LOVE), nice selection of Calphalon cookware, and clothes for Aislinn. They also usually have a nice selection of shoes and business casual pieces for work.

I admit to not hitting up Big Lots as much as I should. It seems that my husband is doing the bulk of the grocery shopping these days, and he's a one-stop-shopper.

We do have a new Ross in town, and I have yet to stop in there. I'll have to do that soon and check it out.

We also have a Tuesday Morning, but it is sooooo messy and disorganized. I get flustered just walking in the door.

Great post, Grace!!! I really enjoyed your tips.

Also posted on your BeautyFix post. Now to remember FB and Twitter when I get home!

I've started to love TJ Maxx and HomeGoods but I find that they vary from store to store quite a bit. Home Goods is awesome for kids room decor and those plastic water glasses with the lid and straw -$4 there and at least $10 everywhere else!

I shop at all of the above!
TJ Maxx is my favorite, but the most expensive. I get a lot of kitchen gear there, though. And when I need shoes, that's the place to get them. Also purses and luggage. I swoon over the kitchen ware selection though!

Ross is ok, my husband likes to get his boxers there. They have the nicer brands (Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis) for cheap. Our local Ross also has a good toy selection and maternity clothes.

Marshalls has the best shoes, and I've bought great coats and kids' stuff at Burlington. I agree with you - discount stores and thrift stores are they way to go. I never shop at department stores, and rarely even at Target or Walmart.

I get my tea and tea accoutrements at TJ Maxx. The handy thing about that strategy is that I have a regularly scheduled reason to visit because what's a girl to do when she's out of tea?

Because I'm in Canada, I mostly only shop at Winner's and even that is infrequent. I'm on team 'Wow this is frustrating' for both major thrift and discount store shopping. On the other hand, Winner's carries toys, so I frequently hit them up for birthday and baby shower gifts. I refuse to buy clothes there anymore. I've regretted every single article of clothing I've ever bought there and the straw that broke the camel's back was a skirt where the zipper broke the second I put it on.

That said, I really appreciate your tips! I will apply them as best I can and see if it improves my shopping experience.

Wow, you found some great things. I used to love hunting through these stores for bargains, but the ones near me aren't usually worth the time it takes to dig through the jam-packed racks. I may have to go hunting for the Amy Butler bedding, though.

The one item I still only buy at TJ or Marshalls is cashmere sweaters, right after Christmas. Oh, and board books! They usually have good kids books for the best price going.

I actually went in TJ Maxx for the first time in years last weekend. I had forgotten how great their kids stuff was. Now that I saw the Le Creuset dish I might have to head back over there and check out the kitchen section!

I was just at TJ Maxx yesterday! It was the umpteenth store I'd visited, trying to find math bats for my new house. I scored a set of 2 mats that were exactly what I wanted for $14.99! Even just one bath mat at Walmart or Target was at least $16.99 so I was stoked.

I shop at most of the stores you mentioned, although I'd forgotten we have a Burlington Coat Factory and a Tuesday Morning here. I tend to shop with a specific focus instead of thrifting, so this post was really helpful on taking another perspective when I'm in there for gifts and stuff that I might need, just not right now.

I commented on the naming post from last week.

We just got a TJ maxx so it's my favorite at the moment. We have no Ross, and I have to travel just over an hour to get to one, and along the way I will pass no less than three awesome thrift shops... Which is to say that I never actually make it to Ross.

We haven't been in a while, but Big Lots is a store that we have frequented in the past. We even bought our couch there, lol.

You should come visit me sometime and visit the wonder that is Gabe's (Gabriel Brothers). They don't have quite the selection of Marshall's, and everything is "as is" so you have to check, but they do have some great stuff and you never know.

Had to share this post on Facebook. It's a good one and thank you for sharing all this wonderful information with us.

Yay!!!! I LOVE discount shopping. When I go to Messina for shopping, TJ Maxx is the first place I hit. We have a sister store here (Canadaland) called Winners. I worked there as a teen and look there for items before going ANYWHERE else. It used to be so bad that I knew what days the trucks delivered lol.

Favorite departments at Winners are the specialty foods, kitchen wares and personal care.

Great blog as always!!!!

And BAM!!! facebook posted :)

And now I will be spending way too much time looking at all of the books you posted about and I'm starting with Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman. My Goodreads account will be overflowing.

Left a comment on the book post as well:)

My favorite is Stein Mart. I go there for things like towels and linens. You can buy really high and bedding there for cheap. Even nicer than the stuff you can get at home goods. I also like big lots. You can define a lot of gourmet and organic food there for supercheap.

Do you still have Fillene's Basement in your area? I loved that store, found an empty one in Baltimore recently. (as in closed!) SOme nice fashions there :-)

I live in the Uk. We have TKMaxx over here which we use for kitchen stuff, bedding, men's shirts, toiletries for gifts, candles, shoes and the occasional fancy party dress for little ones. I sometimes go to a discount shop in my mum's town for a look round but it is pretty dismal. I am very envious of the options you have locally to you.

What a great giveaway, Grace! Now it's time for me to share on facebook and read another post!

I was fairly lucky as far as foot swelling went with my Lemmie pregnancy, but it was terrible with Alexander, so I feel your pain. On the plus side, you're looking absolutely beautiful! Can't wait to see pictures of beautiful Grace with that beautiful baby!

How did that post on the wrong post? I shared on facebook.

I shop at Ross, T.J. Maxx and Big Lots. I bought the best smelling soap ever at T.J. Maxx. It smelled so good that it took me about a week to admit that I was allergic to it and it was the thing making me crazy itchy.

I like TJ Maxx. I have good luck finding underwear and linens there.

I love Ross, TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
I typically buy home decor there- accessories, lamps, tables, etc...
family74014 at gmail dot com

I LOVE this post! These are such great tips, number 7 is always a problem for me, some things are just such a good deal, it pains me not to buy them.

I like Ross for dresses and bras and The Rack for underwear. I've shopped at Big Lots a few times, but I'll have to check it out more closely.

I usually only shop at TJMaxx and HomeGoods- Ross is a bit too hit-or-miss for me. I've been living in a town with a Big Lots for almost a year now, but I've never thought to go in it. Well, now I will! But back to TJMaxx and HomeGoods- I shop for kitchen stuff, clothes and shoes, and kid books, mostly.

I also use TKMaxx (here in the UK), it's especially useful for finding stuff for the home. I've never had much joy shopping for clothes there as my other half is extra extra tall.

I get all my cleaning and baby products at a discount store called Quality Save, they stock the same brands as the supermarkets but much cheaper - I save around 25% a week that way.

I just posted about the giveaway via twitter. :)

I buy a lot of sweaters at Marshall's / TJ Maxx. Also undies, socks, towels, sheets, etc. do you not have a Nordstrom Rack near you? The BEST for shoes.

Laft a comment on Drugstore Product Love.

I love to buy clothes at Ross - my current obsession is Calvin Klein dresses for work! I got married about 2 months ago and discovered TJ Maxx and Marshalls during that process. I ended up buying the shoes I wore for the wedding at Marshalls, as well as the rug that we stood on while ceremony was performed (our chuppah). I keep meaning to add Big Lots to my shopping habits for hair products but haven't managed to do it yet.

I just commented on this post:

It was fun reading some of your archives that I haven't seen since you posted them originally!

I tweeted this (@angie303)

Facebook'd and tweeted!! @mrsrefney

We have, unfortunately, lost most of our local discount stores. I definitely try to hit up TJ Maxx when we are near one. I loved Burlington Coat Factory for baby clothes. That was where I found most of Evan's preemie items.

Just letting you know I commented on another post.

I found my Lucky purse at TJMaxx when I had looked at every department store in town and couldn't find anything fun or funky. I just happened to be in there looking for clothes and figured I'd take a peek and there it was, clearanced for $24.99.

I love shoppng at TJ Maxx and Marshalls. I too, don't notice much of a difference int he types of items they stock, seem pretty much the same. I love getting clothing there because I can buy more (yay!).

I live across the street from a marshalls, so it tops the list. I feel like the marshalls & tj maxx in chicago are pretty interchangeable--at least in the city. I loved big lots but they're very inaccessible here. I haven't seen a burlington in like, 10 years. I like nordstrom's rack if that counts.

I commented on the beautyfix post!

What a fun giveaway! I visit Marshall's the most - there's a Marshall's and a Ross very close to my home, but like you mentioned, Ross stores can be a jumbled hot mess. I only go to Ross to find sundresses for music festivals and if I need something like a ceramic baking dish. However Marshall's I find some serious gems for me, Emerson, and the home.

I've only ever shopped at Ross, for clothes for the kids. It's not bad at all, and a good place for winter coats. They just recently built a TJ Maxx nearby, I may have to give it a try!

I just facebooked you :)

I commented on your third trimester pictures post! And I forgot to say on that one that I really love your red shoes. I need red shoes, I think :)

I FB'd you! :) Have I mentioned lately that I'm glad you're back to blogging?

Thank you so much for the giveaway! My favorite discout store is TJ Maxx in Cincinnati, Ohio. It's two-storey and their selection of purses is mesmerizing. Each time I go in there I see a B.Makoswki bag that I fall in love with.

Tweeted and tagged you in it!!/LifesDeepColors/status/186952591261958145


I just wanted to let Grace, (and all the other WINOW readers) know I got this box today and it is fantastic! There are so many neat things in there. The colored pencils are actual branches, and way too cool to use. My 10 year old daughter is going to love growing the Sunflowers and Forget-Me-Nots in the little grow kits. The Liberty note cards are gorgeous, and come in such a pretty box, the collapsible lunch box is way cool. I need to find a reason to take lunch somewhere, just so I can use it!

And so many other things as well, makeup (which is quite timely, seeing as I've recently taken an interest in it!), delicious smelling soaps, notebooks, including story writing notebooks (another thing my daughter will be going for, I assure you), a cross stitch kit that I will be able to teach my daughter how to do (hopefully. If I remember how. lol), markers... and more.

What a fabulous giveaway. Thank you so much Grace!!

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